Dolly Parton’s Family Rarely Said ‘I Love You’

Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business detained Dolly Parton’s experience with “mountain folks” and how her family said “I love you” and “thank you” to each other without really saying it. Here’s what we know about the country artist behind “I Will Always Love You.”

Dolly Parton is the country singer behind ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Jolene’

Dolly Parton performs during the Billboard Women In Music 2020 event 2020
Dolly Parton performs during the Billboard Women In Music 2020 event 2020 | Billboard Women In Music/Getty Images for Billboard

She’s the “Queen of Country.” Since her musical debut, Parton released “I Will Always Love You,” “9 to 5,” “Islands in the Stream,” “Here You Come Again,” and other hits. However, this musician had humble beginnings, born the daughter of Avie Lee Owens Parton and Robert Lee Parton.

Dolly Parton said ‘an awful lot’ is never said aloud among mountain folks — including ‘I love you’

As a child, music was an integral part of Parton’s life, as detailed in her 1994 memoir. In Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, Parton described growing up in Tennessee. Her father was a sharecropper, meaning he didn’t own the land the family lived on.

“My mama and daddy always gave us everything they could, and all of us kids knew and appreciated that, although it was never spoken,” Parton wrote. “There’s a funny thing about mountain folks. There’s an awful lot that is never said out loud. I can remember very few times when one member of my family said the words ‘I love you’ to another one. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t communicated.” 

“It’s a kind of silent speech that says, ‘Thank you, Mama, for the hot butter beans,’ in the same way that father might say to his son, ‘Nice a going, you plowed a good straight row’ by giving the boy a light punch on the shoulder,” she continued. 

How many siblings does Dolly Parton have?

The artist added that she thinks an “eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart language” is “deeper and truer” than articulating love with words. According to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Parton is one of 12 children in her immediate family. 

The siblings from oldest to youngest are Willadeene, David Wilburn, Coy Denver, Dolly Rebecca, Robert Lee, Stella Mae, Cassie Nan, Randel Huston “Randy,” Larry Gerald, Estel Floyd, and Freida Estelle and Rachel Ann, who are twins.

Although she never had children, Parton often extends her love to organizations. The artist created Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. That’s a nonprofit “dedicated to inspiring a love of reading by gifting books free of charge to children from birth to age 5.” Of course, most of Parton’s time is dedicated to writing, recording, releasing, and performing music. 

In 2022, the singer announced A Holly Dolly Christmas Ultimate Deluxe, scheduled for an Oct. 14 release. The same year, Dolly Parton – Diamonds & Rhinestones: The Greatest Hits Collection is scheduled for release on most major streaming platforms. 

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